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The Florida Senate

2010 Florida Statutes

F.S. 985.433

Disposition hearings in delinquency cases.

When a child has been found to have committed a delinquent act, the following procedures shall be applicable to the disposition of the case:


The court shall notify any victim of the offense, if such person is known and within the jurisdiction of the court, of the hearing.


The court shall notify and summon or subpoena, if necessary, the parents, legal custodians, or guardians of the child to attend the disposition hearing if they reside in the state.


The court may receive and consider any other relevant and material evidence, including other written or oral reports or statements, in its effort to determine the appropriate disposition to be made with regard to the child. The court may rely upon such evidence to the extent of its probative value, even though such evidence may not be technically competent in an adjudicatory hearing.


Before the court determines and announces the disposition to be imposed, it shall:


State clearly, using common terminology, the purpose of the hearing and the right of persons present as parties to comment at the appropriate time on the issues before the court.


Discuss with the child his or her compliance with any home release plan or other plan imposed since the date of the offense.


Discuss with the child his or her feelings about the offense committed, the harm caused to the victim or others, and what penalty he or she should be required to pay for such transgression.


Give all parties, as well as the victim or a representative of the victim, representatives of the school system, and the law enforcement officers involved in the case who are present at the hearing an opportunity to comment on the issue of disposition and any proposed rehabilitative plan. Parties to the case shall include the parents, legal custodians, or guardians of the child; the child’s counsel; the state attorney; and representatives of the department.


At the time of disposition, the court may make recommendations to the department as to specific treatment approaches to be employed.


The first determination to be made by the court is a determination of the suitability or nonsuitability for adjudication and commitment of the child to the department. This determination shall include consideration of the recommendations of the department, which may include a predisposition report. The predisposition report shall include, whether as part of the child’s multidisciplinary assessment, classification, and placement process components or separately, evaluation of the following criteria:


The seriousness of the offense to the community. If the court determines under chapter 874 that the child was a member of a criminal gang at the time of the commission of the offense, the seriousness of the offense to the community shall be given great weight.


Whether the protection of the community requires adjudication and commitment to the department.


Whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated, or willful manner.


Whether the offense was against persons or against property, greater weight being given to offenses against persons, especially if personal injury resulted.


The sophistication and maturity of the child.


The record and previous criminal history of the child, including without limitations:


Previous contacts with the department, the former Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Corrections, other law enforcement agencies, and courts.


Prior periods of probation.


Prior adjudications of delinquency.


Prior commitments to institutions.


The prospects for adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the child if committed to a community services program or facility.


The child’s educational status, including, but not limited to, the child’s strengths, abilities, and unmet and special educational needs. The report shall identify appropriate educational and vocational goals for the child. Examples of appropriate goals include:


Attainment of a high school diploma or its equivalent.


Successful completion of literacy course(s).


Successful completion of vocational course(s).


Successful attendance and completion of the child’s current grade if enrolled in school.


Enrollment in an apprenticeship or a similar program.

It is the intent of the Legislature that the criteria set forth in this subsection are general guidelines to be followed at the discretion of the court and not mandatory requirements of procedure. It is not the intent of the Legislature to provide for the appeal of the disposition made under this section.


If the court determines that the child should be adjudicated as having committed a delinquent act and should be committed to the department, such determination shall be in writing or on the record of the hearing. The determination shall include a specific finding of the reasons for the decision to adjudicate and to commit the child to the department, including any determination that the child was a member of a criminal gang.


The juvenile probation officer shall recommend to the court the most appropriate placement and treatment plan, specifically identifying the restrictiveness level most appropriate for the child. If the court has determined that the child was a member of a criminal gang, that determination shall be given great weight in identifying the most appropriate restrictiveness level for the child. The court shall consider the department’s recommendation in making its commitment decision.


The court shall commit the child to the department at the restrictiveness level identified or may order placement at a different restrictiveness level. The court shall state for the record the reasons that establish by a preponderance of the evidence why the court is disregarding the assessment of the child and the restrictiveness level recommended by the department. Any party may appeal the court’s findings resulting in a modified level of restrictiveness under this paragraph.


The court may also require that the child be placed in a probation program following the child’s discharge from commitment. Community-based sanctions under subsection (8) may be imposed by the court at the disposition hearing or at any time prior to the child’s release from commitment.


If the court determines not to adjudicate and commit to the department, then the court shall determine what community-based sanctions it will impose in a probation program for the child. Community-based sanctions may include, but are not limited to, participation in substance abuse treatment, a day-treatment probation program, restitution in money or in kind, a curfew, revocation or suspension of the driver’s license of the child, community service, and appropriate educational programs as determined by the district school board.


After appropriate sanctions for the offense are determined, the court shall develop, approve, and order a plan of probation that will contain rules, requirements, conditions, and rehabilitative programs, including the option of a day-treatment probation program, that are designed to encourage responsible and acceptable behavior and to promote both the rehabilitation of the child and the protection of the community.


Any disposition order shall be in writing as prepared by the clerk of court and may thereafter be modified or set aside by the court.


s. 38, ch. 97-238; s. 18, ch. 98-207; s. 131, ch. 99-3; s. 30, ch. 2000-135; s. 40, ch. 2001-64; s. 23, ch. 2001-125; s. 45, ch. 2006-120; s. 32, ch. 2008-238.


Former s. 985.23.